NJIT's New Resilient Design Program: NJ Strong

“When everyone rebounds from Sandy, together, New Jersey and its neighbors’ highest priority should be preparing for the next one — because it will happen.” James Lee Witt, Former FEMA Chairman, Star-Ledger op/ed, November 10, 2012.


Resilient Design: Post-Sandy Recovery

New Jersey Strong


Research Integration

The New Jersey Institute of Technology is establishing a program to inform and implement a resilient Post-Sandy recovery in New Jersey. Through research, design and actual demonstration projects, this process will provide State and local leaders, business owners and residents with actionable 21st Century ready-to-build designs and expertise for disaster recovery in areas hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.


At the outset, we focus on three initiatives:

Develop resilient “prototypologies” – actual designs and models for housing, mixed-use development and public buildings at a range of scales and locations, constructed in an efficient manner;

Create a Center for Resilient Design and a clearinghouse for other academic institutions, businesses and NGOs to share information, expertise and assistance; and

Organize (Re)Build New Jersey Strong, a weeklong community service project during Spring Break 2013 when hundreds of NJIT students, faculty and alumni will help residents, businesses and government officials rebuild in a resilient manner.


As an active partner in the Post-Katrina recovery, NJIT sent faculty and students to Louisiana to team with Tulane University. Applying lessons from that collaboration, these initiatives will help residents, businesses and communities recover more quickly, build capacity for resilient design and create new opportunities for products and services that are New Jersey Strong.


The effort will include short- and long-term goals that will complement work underway by federal, State and local governments, nonprofit organizations and civic entities to protect the environment and enhance the quality of life along the Jersey Shore, in Newark, and in Bergen and Hudson Counties. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, NJIT plans to build a network of engaged professionals and expand its research, planning and implementation efforts to serve as a clearing house for innovative designs and techniques that will not only rebuild in a more sustainable manner, but also export architectural ideas and products that will address natural disasters.


The program is being organized by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)Thomas G. Dallessio AICP/PP serves as Resilient Design Project Manager, under the guidance of lead investigators Professor Urs P. Gauchat Hon. AIA, Dean of the College of Architecture and Design and Professor Darius T. Sollohub AIA, Director of the New Jersey School of Architecture. NJIT has initiated Phase I of this work, which will end with the distribution of a project report on June 7, 2013.  Subsequent phases will build upon research and products from Phase I and depend upon securing additional funding to create an institutional center and clearinghouse for information, products and leadership at NJIT.



This program has been organized according to short- and long-term goals to protect the environment, promote beneficial development and enhance the quality of life for all. The short-term goal is to immediately help communities along the Jersey Shore, in Newark and in Bergen and Hudson Counties and assist them in (re)building sustainable and resilient homes, businesses and public facilities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The long-term goal is to use this process as a framework to mobilize a comprehensive approach to construction and reconstruction that both understands the potential for natural disasters and learns and implements the lessons from this and previous disasters. These short- and long-term goals are organized according to four critical questions.


1. Why?

This program assists communities in their post-hurricane recovery efforts. The question in many towns is not whether to rebuild, but how to rebuild. With NJIT’s extensive institutional knowledge and a significant cadre of current and future architects and engineers seeking opportunities to apply resilient solutions, this program will help New Jersey prepare for the next natural disaster. Learning from Post-Katrina efforts at Tulane University, which created long-term benefits for the communities along the Gulf Coast, NJIT will provide leadership on architectural design and resilient solutions, potentially creating new markets and opportunities for enhanced economic development in New Jersey, and ideas to be exported throughout the country and around the world.


2. What?

Through research, studio courses and on-site construction activities, NJIT will develop “prototypologies” for beach areas and other areas of flooding in New Jersey. Actual products include a report identifying lessons learned and recommendations, as well as demonstration projects. Over 300 students, faculty and alumni will donate their time and expertise during Spring Break 2013 to help communities recover from the storm and construct prototype projects that demonstrate designs and construction techniques that will withstand future hurricanes and/or major flooding. Additional phases contemplate future studios and other classes, and the creation of a center and clearinghouse at NJIT to provide information and leadership on resilient designs.


3. How?

Through alliances with the federal government, State of New Jersey and local governments, nonprofit and professional organizations, private businesses and residents, NJIT brings practical design expertise to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Computer Aided Design (CAD) and other technologies, NJIT faculty and students will create state-of-the-art proposals, including designs and models that visualize (re)building Post-Sandy and anticipating the next natural disaster. These collaborations will produce innovative prototypologies of homes, mixed-use development and public buildings that are “New Jersey Strong,” helping our state rebuild in a sustainable manner. A centralized clearinghouse will be created to organize information and provide public officials, design professionals and others with resilient design tools.


4. Where?

This project addresses critical design challenges facing areas along the Jersey Shore, in Newark and other cities affected by Hurricane Sandy, and in suburban areas such as Bergen County affected by flooding in the aftermath of the storm. Specific case studies will be identified and organized in strategic locations in cooperation with State and local officials, with actual projects constructed to inform future (re)building decisions.



Initial research efforts will occur in November 2012 – January 2013. NJIT Studios and other classes will engage faculty and students during the Spring 2013 semester. During Spring Break (March 16-24, 2013), students and faculty will participate in hands-on learning at sites along the Jersey Shore, in Newark, and in Bergen and Hudson Counties to apply their knowledge and construct prototypes. The production of a comprehensive design document will occur in the spring of 2013 and will be completed upon delivery of a report no later than June 7, 2013. The report will be produced with the intent to accept information as additional phases unfold. This report will inform federal, State and local officials, business owners and residents who are planning to build or rebuild following Hurricane Sandy. Potential Phase II and beyond efforts, pending securing additional resources, will delve deeper into resilient designs and engage NJIT faculty and students in the 2013-14 Academic Year. A center and clearinghouse will be established at NJIT to organize information and provide leaders with access to information, designs and networks. 



The proposal described above will provide actual designs, models and demonstrations to reconstruct homes, businesses and public facilities along the Jersey Shore, in Newark and other cities, and in Bergen County and other suburban areas in a resilient manner. A community service component will ensure that NJIT students, faculty and alumni volunteer their time and talents to rebuilding the communities severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. By establishing a clearinghouse for information and an ongoing commitment to promoting resilient designs, NJIT will provide the leadership necessary to advance recovery and promote beneficial development, much as efforts at Tulane University led post-Katrina rebuilding. It represents a critical collaboration necessary for the successful revitalization of the Jersey Shore, the City of Newark and other cities and suburban towns affected by Hurricane Sandy, as well as opportunities to protect the environment and build new communities that can withstand flooding and other future natural disasters in innovative ways. As New Jersey’s only public college for architecture, NJIT is uniquely qualified to undertake this effort and provide a public service to the people of New Jersey.


For more information, contact Tom Dallessio, Resilient Design Project Manager at thomas.g.dallessio@njit.edu or call him at 973.596.5872